Either the government or the movies are calling.
January 23, 2013 12:28 PM   Subscribe

For the last four months, I've been getting anywhere between 3 and 60 calls per day on my cell phone from (555) 555-5555, at all hours. If I pick up, it's a recorded voice, somewhere between a computer and a british lady saying "one... one... one..." What the hell is going on, and how do I make it stop?

I downloaded a call-blocker app for my iphone, but it did not work. I know that there are ways to mask your number from caller ID, and that sometimes makes it show up as all 5s. Usually they'll call a few times a day, but sometimes I get like 10 calls in a row, and sometimes it's a couple calls every hour all through the night. It's a little disconcerting, but it's mostly annoying. But I don't want to change my phone number, because that would be equally annoying.
posted by Jon_Evil to Technology (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

Response by poster: My carrier is AT&T
posted by Jon_Evil at 12:40 PM on January 23, 2013

Call AT&T and see what they have to say. They should offer a blocking technology that will work for you.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:47 PM on January 23, 2013

AT&T will let you block numbers using their Smart Limits for Wireless service, unfortunately it costs $4.99 a month. Alternatively, if you have an iPhone you can add the number to your address book, and then assign a silent ringtone to that contact. Other phones may have similar support for setting custom ringtones for specific contacts.
posted by RichardP at 12:51 PM on January 23, 2013

That is extremely creepy! I don't know if iphones do this, but on my android phone whenever I get spam calls I have them auto-forwarded to voicemail. They never leave messages.
posted by AmandaA at 1:08 PM on January 23, 2013

Have you tried calling the number?
posted by windykites at 1:19 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

Have you tried calling the number?

It's almost certainly spoofed.
posted by Johnny Assay at 1:25 PM on January 23, 2013

This is very likely a misconfigured automatic dialing system. My second guess would be that someone is using a computer telephony system on purpose to make these [prank] calls. When a company (or technically-oriented individual) connects to the telephone network, they are generally given the ability to set whatever outgoing Caller ID value they want, so as to be able to route return calls to the appropriate party.

Besides using a workaround or changing your number as mentioned earlier, I believe your only recourse in getting the calls to stop would be to file a report with your local police department about the harassing calls you have been receiving. [The frequency and time of the calls can be considered harassing even if the content is not by itself.] With a police case open, AT&T can trace the source of the calls back through any intermediate phone companies to the originating caller. Once you, AT&T, and/or the police know where the calls are coming from, you can ask them to stop.
posted by Juffo-Wup at 1:27 PM on January 23, 2013

Response by poster: Juffo-Wup, that might work in your neighborhood, but unfortunately, my local police department is pretty high on the list of people who might be making the calls.
posted by Jon_Evil at 1:52 PM on January 23, 2013

PD making them, or monitoring them?

Call your phone company and ask them to put a trap on your line for the harassing calls. They may be able to trace them back this way. If the phone co doesn't move, getting the police involved is the next step (the police won't IMHO do much accept to tell the phone co to do the job, which is all you really want).

Alternately, port your number to Google Voice, who I think are pretty good at filtering out spam calls, or change your number, or port it to a cell co with better customer service.
posted by zippy at 2:04 PM on January 23, 2013

Spoofing caller ID is trivial. Who knows (or cares) whats going on. I bet your carrier would be able to block them at the source.
posted by damn dirty ape at 2:12 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

I am having a hard time making the leap from your links about the NYPD/Microsoft surveillance system and that they may be making the calls. But, if you think they might be, make a FOIL request about calls to your number.

Otherwise I would call AT&T and ask them for help.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:06 PM on January 23, 2013 [3 favorites]

AT&T might need a case number from the police in order to do anything (well, other than sell you their blocking service which might not work if it's an unknown number). So even if the police won't really do anything, it might do to call them have them take your information and give you the number, just so you have something to tell AT&T.

Otherwise, the only thing to do is to port your number to Google Voice for a short while.
[If you have iOS 6, there is this app called Call Bliss that leverages the Do Not Disturb feature. It has a lot of options -- maybe too many; I'm not sure it would work for you.]
posted by bluefly at 7:43 AM on January 24, 2013

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